Food safety law isn’t going anywhere. It’s put in place for food service professionals, food handling employees, and food processors and manufacturers to operate to a high standard in order to keep the people eating the food safe. Does it sometimes make our lives in the food industry harder? Absolutely -- but you can’t argue with all the good that comes out of restrictions put in place to protect our society from food contamination, food borne illness and poor hygiene practices in our industry!
New food safety laws are continually being introduced by local and national governments (see FSMA). All 50 states in the US have their own standards. For the food handling industry, this means staying up on new food safety laws is a necessity. Large fines, recalls, brand damage and business closings are the potential risks of violating these food safety laws. In order to keep your business safe, we’ve devised a list of things you can do today to keep from violating food safety regulation.
1. Send Sick Employees Home
Save yourself from food safety fines by imploring your employees to go home if they feel sick or if they’ve had contact with someone who is sick. A sick employee will only cause problems, no matter how hard they work, so just tell them to take the day off and get better soon! Unfortunately, according to one study, employees who were asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) were responsible for more outbreaks than workers who were clearly ill, that’s why it’s also important to take extra precautions, such as offering high quality food safety disposables to all employees.
2. Change Gloves Often
The quality of the glove is incredibly important (nitrile gloves are the best available!) -- tensile strength, flexibility and allergy-free materials all play their role to increase food safety, but disposable gloves still need to be replaced often. If worn too long, wearers run the risk of glove failure, bacterial contamination and skin irritation due to rash. It’s important to take off a pair of gloves and let your hands “breathe” before wearing another pair. Also, even though the gloves may look fine, the longer you wear them the greater the chance for rips, tears and cross contamination. Replacing gloves often is the safest option.
3. Be Wary of Wiping Cloths
One of the sad realities is that wiping cloths really aren’t that clean. They can be used to wipe a surface dry, but even though the surface may look clean, it certainly is not. Bacteria flock to these cloths and will contaminate nearly everything they touch, including bare hands. It helps to change your cloths regularly, but even then, contamination could spread. When using cleaning cloths, be sure to use food safety disposable gloves each time you make contact.
4. Understand the Limitations of Soap
We all know how important it is to use soap and to clean our hands thoroughly when handling food, but less often do we hear about the limitations of soap. A good clean requires at least 10 seconds of washing -- much longer than the average hand wash. Also, we often put too much trust in soap. It turns out that antibacterial soap is ineffective on viruses. Soap is a good defense against bacteria and some of the dangers of food safety, but it’s in no means the only defense. Proper food safety gloves, changed regularly, are a necessity for safe food handling.
5. Ready-to-Eat Foods Should Never Get Bare-Hand Contact
In 2014, 41 states adopted the ‘No-Bare-Hands’ food safety rule requiring all food service workers to wear disposable gloves or use utensils when handling ready-to-eat food. Since then, only California has repealed the law (learn why here). Regardless of whether or not your state has adopted or repealed this law, it brings to light a very real concern: bare-hands are a risk, and even if your state doesn’t require your employees to wear disposable gloves, we’re reminded of the old idiom, “better to be safe than sorry!” There are simply too many variables (and germs, bacteria and dirty door knobs!) in between your workers’ bare hands and your customers’ food!
6. Safely Dispose of Old Gloves
It’s important to safely dispose of old gloves once you’ve taken them off. Simply offering waste baskets is not enough, in many cases. If you have a problem with employees properly disposing of old disposable gloves, try strategically positioning waste bins in areas of high concern for easy accessibility. This will cut down on the number of gloves that don’t make it to a waste bin and also improve employee productivity with less turnaround time when putting on a new pair of disposable food gloves.
7. Stock Up on the Glove that Fits the Job
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve worked with businesses who were unaware of the limitations and benefits of specific types of food safety disposable gloves -- they were under the impression that simply purchasing gloves and ordering employees to wear them was taking proper food safety precautions. But not all gloves are created equal. Nitrile, vinyl, polyethylene and latex gloves are all available as different types of glove materials. Plus, there are unique types of each. For instance, Nitrile Sensitive are specifically for food service jobs requiring material that’s tough yet sensitive enough for all hands (latex and accelerator chemical free). If you need help discerning which kind of food safety glove is right for your business, contact one of our experts today.
Eagle Protect is on the forefront of food safety regulation, protecting you, your employees, your customers and your business from the very real dangers of violating food safety codes. We sell only the highest quality, responsibly sourced products from the most trusted manufacturers in the world.
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